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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Nuclear Power Plant In Ukraine On Fire After Russian Assault; Putin: "Special Military Operation In Ukraine Is Going According To Plan"; Nuclear Power Plant In Ukraine On Fire After Russian Assault; "Terrifying Situation" Inside Ukraine's Largest Children's Hospital; UN: More Than One Million Refugees Flee Ukraine. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 03, 2022 - 20:00   ET


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hungarian border region. I can't stress enough. You just see again and again in stores, in guest houses, in cafes, Ukrainian women, with their children, no men around.

It is an eerie phenomenon, a result of this.

The Deputy Mayor who is taking in these families, she predicts that this is just the beginning. She predicts this will get much, much worse -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Ivan, thank you very much.

And thanks to all of you, AC 360 starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Good evening tonight from Lviv, Ukraine.

We begin with breaking news, potentially ominous news. This is closed circuit video of the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine. Now, it is the largest in the country with six nuclear reactors. It has been under attack for several days from Russian attacks and now, it is said to be on fire.

It is burning, firefighters reportedly cannot battle the blaze. These are live images you're seeing because of the continued shooting.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister tweeting this just a moment ago and I'm quoting directly now from Ukraine's Foreign Minister, quote: "Russian Army is firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia NPP, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Fire has already broken out. If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chernobyl. Russians must immediately cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone." Exclamation mark.

Now elsewhere, Russian attacks on civilians accelerated today. This was a huge apartment complex in a city about 60 miles south of Kyiv, which has seen withering attacks over the last several days and where rescue efforts have been halted due to more shelling. Look at these images. This again is a residential area. A local driver captured one such attack, target unclear on dashboard

camera video published today by "The New York Times." You'll see it freeze at one point where they highlight the individual projectiles falling on what the driver says is a residential area and you'll see multiple projectiles.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in foreign language.)

TEXT: (Expletive.) And this is what they (expletive) call not bombing residential buildings? It is (expletive).


COOPER: That is not precision bombing. Those are multiple projectiles falling in what is said to be a residential area.

Along with the growing attacks on civilian areas, yet more people forced to relocate or flee the country, entirely upwards of a million people are now refugees, and that number is rising according to the U.N.

Yet in all the grim news and even grimmer forecasting, there is also this: Berlins Central Train Station in Germany, thousands of Berliners greeting refugees, greeting Ukrainian women and children carrying signs, some in Ukrainian, offering total strangers places to stay.

And late today, we learned the Biden administration is extending Temporary Protected Status to the approximately 30,000 Ukrainians now in this country permitting them to stay when their visas expire.

Now, as only CNN can, we have correspondents across the region this evening. CNN chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward is in Kyiv; CNN's Sara Sidner is at a crossing point in Poland; CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in southern Ukraine, where Russian forces are advancing. Also CNN contributor, Jill Dougherty is in Moscow, CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the White House for us, as well, and CNN chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto is with me here in Lviv.

Right now, I want to go to a nuclear policy expert, Graham Allison from Harvard's Belfer Center. Graham, could you give us a sense, how concerned should everyone be about the situation at this very large nuclear power plant?

GRAHAM ALLISON, NUCLEAR POLICY EXPERT: The fracture unfolding as we sit here, but I would say in general, very concerned. We should remember, Chernobyl in '86 was a meltdown that spewed radioactive material all over Western Europe. And so, it's conceivable that one could have another version of that.

I hope not. I pray not, but things could be worse.

COOPER: The images we are seeing, it is very -- obviously, it is the middle of the night. It's hard to see. We've zoomed in on what appears to be the fire. We're told firefighters can't fight it because of ongoing attacks.

Is a fire at a nuclear power plant -- I mean, obviously, it doesn't sound good, but are there systems within a plant to automatically fight a fire?


ALLISON: Well, yes, but not all fires, and not all fires in a power plant have catastrophic consequences.

We can remember what happened at Fukushima. The issues really go to whether the fire, maybe in the cooling pits, because there, you have material that is particularly radioactive, or if ultimately, a fire could cause a meltdown of the reactor. And in that case, you would have a huge release of radioactivity.

And as I say, the radioactivity that was released in '86 from the Chernobyl crisis, or tragedy, you know, spread all over, I mean, not just Ukraine, but all over Western Europe, and into Russia as well.

So the Russians understand the risks that are associated with a nuclear power plant, the Ukrainian professionals do, too. So I'm sure they're both, you know, working to try to avoid the worst, but nuclear power plants are dangerous.

COOPER: Now, assuming, again, you know, the statement from the Ukrainian Foreign Minister is saying -- is really describing what is going on. We don't have eyes on the ground there. We can't confirm exactly what is going on.

Again, we are taking -- we are basing our reporting off what we're being told by Ukrainian authorities here, obviously. But of all the things -- what are the things we need to know, specifically, in order to determine just for the hours ahead for our viewers, what information do we need to know specifically about this fire? About its location, et cetera in order to determine how serious this may be?

ALLISON: Now, good question and I wish I had a good answer. I would say that there are so many uncertainty surrounding it. But if I were doing by checklist, at first instance, where is the fire? And secondly, who is in control of the power plant?

I was reported that Russians had taken control because of their concern about these risks, but is there fighting that gave rise to the fire? Or, you know, how did this come about?

And then thirdly, what about the people who are trying to managing to put out the fire given particularly the difficulties at night, and with the uncertainties around it? And if there's fighting going on, around Chernobyl, around this facility, which I can't tell from the information that's available, then obviously, having firefighters going trying to deal with the fire in the midst of gunfire, not a very good idea.

But we should remember, as I say, we go back to 1986, there was a terrible crisis at Chernobyl. It released a huge amount of radioactivity. It actually changed the weather and the growing patterns all over a great swath of Russia, Ukraine, and much of Western Europe.

So nuclear power plants, in principle, can contain enough material, such that if there is a fire in the cooling facilities, that can release a lot of very dangerous radioactivity, and if there is a meltdown at the reactor, that can produce a huge release of radioactivity. And God knows there is enough problems in Ukraine without a nuclear catastrophe on top of it.

COOPER: How -- and again, this may -- I don't know if you know this, but how hardened are the reactors themselves? You know, the structures that contain nuclear material, how hardened are they to something like a rocket strike or to, you know, incoming potential collisions with anything coming into them?

ALLISON: That's a question I did look at when I was looking at -- I am writing a book about nuclear terrorism and nuclear reactors, let's take the ones here in the U.S., and also the one at Chernobyl, they are not designed against attacks by advanced weapons.

So even if an aircraft, an airliner were to crash into a reactor, like the one in Indian Point in New York, for example, I looked at that in some detail. You can have a great release of radioactivity. So, if rockets were targeting a nuclear reactor, then I think they could quite successfully, you know to create a huge fire that could conceivably produce a large release.


ALLISON: But I have not seen any evidence of the attacks that produce the fire. Maybe that's what happened. But again, it's, I think, a little hard to tell at this point.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, it would be obviously ideal for Ukrainian authorities who apparently still are in control of this plant or are still on site at this plant. If there are Ukrainian firefighters there, there must be Ukrainian authorities there, you would think just out of a sense of responsibility to the global community, getting as much information out as quickly as possible, and not causing hysteria would be a good idea, trying to get as much information right now into people's hands about what it was the cause of this fire, at the very least, and where the fire is located. Those seem to be basic questions that we still need to be answered.

ALLISON: I agree. And I think the other thing is the level of professionalism in both the Ukrainian nuclear community that deals with their reactor, and in the Russian community, I would say, has been impressive.

And so, I think if it were up to the professionals who are trying to manage a nuclear power production facility, I would have a higher level of confidence. If this has gotten caught up in the warfare between Russia and Ukraine, then you know, God only knows because, almost no normal systems, no normal parts of our lives are hardened against serious military attack. That's just not -- you know, not one of the things that normal people prepare for most of the time.

COOPER: I should point out to our viewers, we are looking -- these images are coming from closed circuit monitors. We are not in control of these images. These are being provided by authorities at the facility. So, it's not only -- that's why there is a low quality to it, because it's a closed circuit camera.

But also you see the images changing. And again, that's not something we have control over, but it appears that fire -- this is video now from earlier of the fire, which you can see, they are sort of in the middle to the right of that taller structure.

They are saying that this is also the firefight that those streaks across there, which, you know, look almost like snow are actually tracer fire during a firefight at the facility. So, what's interesting about this is that it apparently, and again, we don't know there have been rockets or you know, missiles in this area, but I mean, that would appear to be tracer fire of relatively large caliber weapons.

So it looks like more of a ground fight, at least at this time on this camera.

ALLISON: I can't from the pictures, really, you know, interpret what is going on in the detail, but I'm sure that as the night goes on, we'll learn more.

COOPER: Yes, I want to bring in our Jim Sciutto who is also here with me, in Lviv.

I mean, Jim, obviously, this is potentially a very large concern. You would think, I mean, even Russian authorities, with any sense of responsibility, even for Russia, it would not be a good idea to be messing with nuclear power plants.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: I should say that prior to the invasion, it was the U.S. Intelligence assessment that Russia would not deliberately attack nuclear power plants here. Russia is invading the country with the intention of taking over the country, it would not want to radiate the country, right, prior to that.

However, it was part of the U.S. assessment that if Russia would attack, so is to disconnect the plants from the electrical grid, at least temporarily, as part of their effort to squeeze cities and bring Ukraine to its knees.

The trouble is, of course, artillery fire or rocket fire or airstrikes around nuclear power plant in and of themselves are dangerous, because of course, one of those shots could go astray.

COOPER: It's inherently unstable.

SCIUTTO: It is inherently unstable, and you will often hear -- and I think you and I have talked about this that the U.S. view of Russia, Russian accuracy with its weapons is not great, right, that they may intend to strike here and end up striking there. But I should say, it was the U.S. assessment that it wouldn't be

deliberate, right? Because they own it. You know, you invade it, you own it, but they did want to strike near with the intention of disconnecting from the grid.

COOPER: Which makes sense from -- mean, just in the sick logic of warfare it makes sense to disconnect the power grids in the country you're attacking to deprive civilians and everybody of heat, of electricity, of all the things, to try to break the will of a population.


SCIUTTO: It is a siege mentality, right? And we're seeing that play out in a number of cities here where you encircle, you put pressure on, right and fire deadly fire as well, including against civilians, but you also deprive them of what they need -- food, power, water, et cetera, and this would be a case.

The trouble is, of course, this is a war, those weapons are powerful, and anything near a plant like this is potentially dangerous.

COOPER: Yes. Graham Allison, I appreciate your expertise and I appreciate you, you being with us. Obviously, there is still a lot we need to know. And I just want to stress there is a lot we do not know in these kinds of situations, I always like to stress what we don't know, we don't know the exact location of this fire, we don't know if it is in any place inside anywhere that potentially could lead to any kind of a release.

So I don't want to be overstating this. Obviously, there is a very alarming statement from a high level Ukrainian official, a tweet that went out. But again, you know, there is an ongoing war, there is, if you look at it, there's a reason why they would want to put out a statement, which is alarming and attention getting, and it may very well be accurate.

But we just want to be very careful about, you know, what we were saying about this and just acknowledging there is a lot we don't know. We're going to continue to follow that obviously very closely over the next several hours and bring you any information as we get it.

So we'll follow those developments with the nuclear power plant or I was getting the largest in Europe. Also we will check in with our correspondents in the field. Later, Clarissa Ward visits a Children's Hospital where despite the shelling outside, the caring has never stopped.

We will be right back.



COOPER: A fire in a gunfire at Ukraine's largest nuclear plant. Now moments, ago the International Atomic Energy Agency tweeted quote: "IAEA is aware of reports of shelling at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), in contact with Ukrainian authorities about situation."

Joining us now is Clarissa Ward, Sara Sidner, Jill Dougherty, and Kaitlan Collins.

I want to start with Kaitlan Collins.

You've heard from the White House about this fire at the nuclear plant, what are they saying?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, they don't seem to know much more than we do. They are also still monitoring this trying to figure out what exactly is happening here. Obviously, you can see from this footage that the fire is underway, and we know the reports of the shelling and what the Ukrainian officials have said and obviously the White House is in touch with them.

But they are still assessing this situation just as much as we are, and so that remains to be seen what happens here, of course, what the impact of this is going to be with the White House is closely monitoring this and given of course, the potential for damage here.

They don't yet know what is going on. They're still talking to Ukrainian authorities, but obviously this is deeply concerning to them.

COOPER: Yes, and again, we'll continue to follow it. There is a lot we do not know and a lot to learn still.

Kaitlan, thank you.

Clarissa, the warning from French officials following President Macron's call with Putin that they believe the worst is yet to come. Explain what you have been seeing today?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, you know, it's already been a bad few days, but I would say today was the worst that we've seen in terms of the types of material that are coming in videos posted online from all around the country, but particularly in a town called Chernihiv, which is about 70 miles north of here, where there were multiple strikes.

Vast residential apartment building, apparently targeted in one video that I watched a man is shouting, it was "apteka" which means it was a pharmacy or a drugstore that was targeted. And then you can hear a woman screaming from another part of the area, "ditey, ditey," which means "children, children" and the video is very graphic, so I don't think we can show it to you.

But you can see the bodies of civilians lying on the ground. We're hearing from local authorities in Chernihiv that more than 30 people were killed today in those attacks.

Also closer to the capital, just to the northwest, the town of Borodyanka, again, the Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, saying that there were many civilian casualties there; again, just astonishing images, Anderson, of residential apartment buildings, big tower blocks with gaping holes in them as a result of being hit by what we believe to be Russian strikes, Russian aerial bombardment.

I've watched countless other videos that CNN has been able to geo- locate today where you can hear Russian fighter jets screeching overhead, followed by enormous blasts, and the sense is that what we're seeing --

COOPER: I've got to say Clarissa --

WARD: This fighting is gradually getting closer and closer.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, Clarissa, we are showing those videos right now, these Reuter images, drone images of that of that apartment block. I mean, it looks like -- that looks like Grozny. I mean, that is a residential building completely destroyed.

WARD: It is and you know, the Russian line has always been that this is a sort of restrained military operation, very targeted, not maximalist or expansionist, not intended to be an occupation, not targeting civilians.

But when you're looking at those images that as you said, which looks like Grozny or sites that I've seen in Aleppo, the almost apocalyptic nature of those pictures of what is left of that apartment building. How can you possibly begin to make the case that you are seriously trying to avoid taking civilian lives? I mean, it is simply beggar's belief.


WARD: And so what we're seeing here appears to be a sort of gradual turning up of the heat or upping the ante as Ukrainian forces continue to pretty effectively defend towns and cities around the country, and particularly around this capital.

We're seeing Russian forces and we had been warned about this, Anderson by U.S. officials, we're seeing them resort to these kinds of indiscriminate tactics, to targeting of civilian structures, because that does have understandably a profound effect on a country, on a people, on morale, particularly for civilians who are living through this horror.

And so the idea appears to be to try to put on the squeeze, put maximum pressure onto the people of Ukraine to try to essentially bludgeon any fight that they have left out of them.

So far, that doesn't seem to have been effective. We are also seeing Ukrainian forces continuing to fight back. But nonetheless, some serious distressing images and distressing reports from across the country today -- Anderson.

COOPER: Sara Sidner, right after we went off air last night, we got word the more than a million refugees, in fact, to say that they're refugees is really not appropriate. They have become refugees. They are women and children. They are people who are working in Ukraine. They are people -- I mean, they're from Africa and all around the world, just like you and me, who are now forced to be refugees by circumstances.

They have fled Ukraine, more than a million people now, you're still at the border. What have you seen today?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are at a train station. I want to give you an example of what the people who are fleeing with sometimes just the clothes on their back are seeing as they show up in Poland and get off that train.

You see that sign behind me, the sign says, "Here, you are safe. Welcome to Poland."

So you are seeing the kind of work that is being done here, to try to make sure that people feel comfortable. And I'm going to quickly take you inside because all day and all night, we are seeing people flowing in here. Sometimes there are a lot because a train will have dropped people off from Lviv, for example.

People are bringing their dogs, people are of course bringing anything that they can, but usually it's just one bag. I mean, think about it, you leave your house and all you have is one bag. So you have to decide what to take and what not to take.

Inside, when people come in from the war, this is what they're greeted with. On your right, there is SIM cards, they are free so that people can make phone calls when they get into this country, without having any trouble.

Over here, to my right, you are also seeing food. It is hot food. They are bringing this every single day. It is never not available for people who are hungry.

And then here you can get help trying to figure out where you might go. If anyone has a medical problem. There are people here to help with any sort of medical issue that someone might have and try to help them for example, fill a prescription.

And then as you go along, notice these signs. These signs that people are holding up are often signs to say, "Look, we can take you somewhere. Do you need a ride? We have space for you in our homes." And that is what we are seeing here.

It is an incredible outpouring of giving from people, of volunteerism from people. Many of these people are just here to simply volunteer from all over Europe, by the way, not just Poland.

The Polish are here en masse, but there are people from Germany and Denmark that we have talked to today who are opening their homes and offering anything that people need, they can try and get it right here in this train station -- Anderson.

COOPER: Really remarkable to see. Sara Sidner, appreciate you showing us that.

Jill Dougherty, in Moscow. The world heard from Vladimir Putin again today. What was he saying?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: There is no indication that Vladimir Putin has any intent to stop what he is doing. He had a teleconference with his Security Council, and at that, he said everything is going according to plan.

And he also said he is intent on, as he and other officials put it, de-Nazifying Ukraine. And we also had -- you made a quick reference to it -- President Macron of France made another phone call, 90 minutes he talked with Vladimir Putin and a source at the Elysee Palace later came out and said the expectation is that the worst is yet to come, and that President Putin is intent on taking over the entire country.


And then just briefly here in Moscow, we continue to have those protests. They are taking place every day. The total of the number of people who've been arrested is somewhere around 8,000. And then on the information bore side, two of the independent outlets that would be TV Rain and Echo Moscow, remember, they were kind of blocked by the government now. Today, Thursday, they shut down, they're hoping one of them at least is hoping to reopen. And Friday, the parliament will be looking at a law that would make it illegal to give as they put it, fake news about the war. And that can be punished with a --

COOPER: Hey Jill?

DOUGHERTY: -- with 15 years in prison. Anderson.

COOPER: Jill, I just want to jump in because we're showing the picture --

DOUGHERTY: Oh that woman?

COOPER: -- that you showed me earlier today.


COOPER: This lady who was maybe five feet tall if that and got to be in her 80s, upper 80s I would say, this is a woman of Vladimir Putin fears, fears so much that she is being arrested by a mob of riot police and dragged off to be booked. It's extraordinary to me, this lady who's being applauded, standing there with to homemade handwritten signs protesting what is going on. This is the woman that Vladimir Putin who rides around on a horse shirtless and likes to show himself off, you know, on a dojo with his black belt doing judo as a tough guy. He is scared of this woman on the streets of Moscow just standing there with to handmade signs.

DOUGHERTY: Yes. And interestingly, you know, the signs are against nuclear war. And that whole issue of nuclear weapons is hanging over all this, look at what's happening in the picture. She's been showing that nuclear power plants. And this woman actually is, you know, she's very up in age that she is anti-war. And they're her signs as she was dragged off by the police. COOPER: I mean all the things that this woman has survived in the Soviet Union, all through her entire life she has seen the history of the Soviet Union through her entire life, to be dragged off the streets by Vladimir Putin. The tough guy is stunning.

Appreciate Jill your reporting. And thank you for pointing out this image of me earlier today. I've been thinking about that woman. Let's hope we can find out what's happened to her.

Kaitlan, President Biden announced further sanctions on Russia late this afternoon. What more do we know about them?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, these are adding to that oligarchs sanctions list. This is seven oligarchs that they are going after adding to the sanctions list also going after Putin's personal spokesperson. Dmitry Peskov, of course, you often hear from him he's the one talking to reporters, spinning lies saying that they're not invading Ukraine. They have no plans to invade Ukraine. Of course, we know that's not true. They're added on this list. They're also going after visa restrictions for 47 Russian oligarchs and their family members or close associates going after them as well.

There is still a big question here tonight, Anderson about banning Russian oil imports, something that the White House has been asked about the President Biden has said on his on the table, and notably here in Washington, there is bipartisan agreement on this, Republicans and Democrats alike coming together saying that they do think that that should happen, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who said yes, ban the Russian oil imports. It's not a decision that the White House is ready to make yet they talked about the interagency process that happens to make a decision like that, it's not clear that they're actually going to do that but it certainly is something that there is pressure on the President to potentially do even for members of his own party, Anderson.

COOPER: Kaitlan Collins appreciated, Jill Dougherty, Sara Sider, Clarissa Ward as well. We're going to have more from Clarissa Ward coming up, her visit to a hospital today in Kyiv.

Coming up next, we'll talk about the nuclear plant fire, what we know about it now, what we don't know about it as well, as well as the rest of the war. Retired Army -- Four Star General Wesley Clark.



COOPER: Take a look there any clues circuit TV image from Ukraine's largest nuclear plants a fire breaking out there after a Russian assault and now according to the local mayor, Russian shelling appears to be preventing firefighters from battling the blaze. Again, that's from a local mayor.

I want to get some perspective now from a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, retired Army Four Star General Wesley Clark. General Clark, firrst of all, I'm wondering your reaction to this fight happening around or at the Nuclear Power Plant. Obviously there's a lot we do not know about it. And we're having to take the word of, you know, Ukrainian officials about their descriptions about what's going on. From a military perspective, what do you make of this -- of what's going on there and what we know?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, RET. FMR NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, actually what's happening, Anderson is the Russians are trying to seal off the Dnieper River going right up to Dnieper to tag a bunch of Ukrainian forces in what they call a giant encirclement. Is just sort of a classic maneuvers operations, right in a way. But the Zaporizhzhia power plant is a really key strategic asset. It's now providing 25% of the power for Ukraine, take that offline that the grid is at least temporarily destabilized, you're cutting the ability of the Ukrainians to be able to handle communications, do a lot of other things. It could be cold and dark in some places in Ukraine. And so, yes, that's a military objective now.

Shooting at it, starting a fire in it. That's crazy stuff. Because if one of those and there were six reactors there, I understand for our operational if one of those four operational reactors that's under pressure, it's got high temperature water in it, it's radioactive. If that containment dome gets punctured, something happens to the failsafe mechanism on those reactors, you're going to have something that's just as bad as Chernobyl was and it could spew radioactive steam and other byproducts of that accident. It could steam (INAUDIBLE) for hundreds of miles to the west. It would make parts of Ukraine in that area, which is very valuable farmland firstly on a habitable for generations. No, it's a reckless, stupid military (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: You know, General, Clarissa Ward was showing us moments ago some of the images, we saw Reuters images of an apartment complex that was just completely blown apart. And their drone images, they're extraordinarily disturbing. You know, we they look like Grozny which you and I have talked about in the past Russia's actions there. How I mean, this tells you about what lies ahead potentially for a lot of cities, a lot of urban population centers in Ukraine.

CLARK: Right. Well, what the Russians are going to do is they're going to go into these population centers, take them forced the mayor's to capitulate to save human lives, that's sort of what happened in Kherson. And then they'll find some local Ukrainians who are affiliated with the Russian Party of Regions or otherwise sympathetic to Russia, and put them in Georgia leaks and security forces behind and they'll move on. And the trick for the Ukrainians, of course, for the Ukrainian military is don't get trapped in the cities, fight it with territorial defense forces, local resources, use the police to help you and then stay mobile. We don't want to see those Ukrainian forces that are east of the big river that were fighting against the Donbas area, you don't want to see him caught in a pocket where they're encircled and run out of ammunition or captured or annihilated.

[20:40:46] So, got to fight a mobile battle here and at the same time, protect the population centers as best possible.

COOPER: Right.

CLARK: This advisor (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Yes, I mean, and the areas that we -- the -- that apartment complex that we we're looking at, which was heavily attacked from air or from least from rockets. That was -- that's just around -- that is around Kyiv. You know, how violent will the attack in Kyiv itself be? I mean, will they attempt to destroy Kyiv first before actually moving in?

CLARK: You know, it's there. There are various ways to go after a city like this. They tried to sneak attack we've seen some groups of saboteurs and killed Zelensky cause a lot of chaos and have the people throw up their hands and in despair and surrender, let didn't work. So the Ukrainians have got their barricades up, they're prepared to fight. So, they can take it section by section. They can put the artillery fire in there and move through it. Or they could simply stand back and bombard it with artillery. Until finally, the President says, oh, look, enough's enough. I'm not going to -- we're not going to have a million people die in Kyiv. You can have it.

And if that could happen, I think it's unlikely. But I think that's what Putin is believing. Putin doesn't have respect for Zelensky. We know that the way he's talked about him, and he should have respect. Zelensky he's been a real hero, he's very real resolute, in my view, and he's really rallied not only Ukraine, but world opinion. So if Putin thinks she can lob some artillery in there, wipe out, kill a few thousands civilians and Zelensky is going to surrender and turn the country over. I think Putin misunderstands the quality of Ukrainian patriotism and the strength of President Zelensky. So, you're going to look at a long battle here. It's going to be tough.

COOPER: Yes, General Wesley Clark, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Just ahead, how Ukraine's largest children's hospital so far surviving the attacks. Clarissa Ward joins us again from Kyiv when we come back.



COOPER: In addition to the fire at the Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine, destruction in and around the capital of Kyiv continues as well as we've been showing you there's a video of an attack we mentioned earlier. From a small town outside Kyiv, locals reportedly repelled a Russian assault that destroyed buildings and burning cars give you just a sense of the level of violence that's we're now seeing as part of daily lives of civilians.

As we reported earlier, of course, it's all fear to get worse, particularly for some of Ukraine's most vulnerable citizens. Clarissa Ward tonight has details. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside the Okhmatdyt Hospital, the sound of heavy fighting pierces the night air. The shelling has started, this nurse says, we're in the surgical department for newborn babies. It's so loud.

Exhausted staff hover nervously in the hallway. This is Ukraine's largest children's hospital. Shutting down is not an option.

DMYTRO ISHCHENKO, NEUROSURGEON: Yes, we decided to open your surgical department here.

WARD (voice-over): Neurosurgeon Dmytro Ishchenko shows us the impact of just one week of war.

(on-camera): So the children who are too sick to be moved have to stay here in the basement in case the bombardment starts again.

(voice-over): There are 10 patients currently being treated in this underground hallway. And they are very sick indeed.

(on-camera): Is this your daughter?


WARD (voice-over): On the floor in one corner, we meet Sonia (ph) and her three-month-old daughter Milena (ph). Milena (ph) has a brain tumor.


WARD (voice-over): It's a terrifying situation, we must stay underground. And we don't know how long for, she says.


WARD (voice-over): I'm alone here at the hospital. And my husband is at home with my other kid. For seven nights she has been sleeping on this floor as the bombing gets closer.

(on-camera): She's saying that the stress of the situation has meant that her milk has dried up, so she's now using formula for her daughter.

(voice-over): With resources being diverted to deal with trauma, injuries, parents are stepping in to help where they can. At one bed, Valentin (ph) is feeding an unconscious child.


WARD (on-camera): So he's saying that little baby there is his little boy, but he's helping with this child because their mother can't be here.

(voice-over): I tell him he's strong. There's no other way, he says. God gives us strength.

In this environment, Dr. Ishchenko offers his patients and their families whatever he can, but there are limits.

ISHCHENKO: It's really very challenging and really tough because we don't have good conditions for our patients.

WARD (on-camera): Is this dangerous for them the situation?

ISHCHENKO: Yes. And not only because we have a war, these conditions is not suitable with brain surgeries.

WARD (voice-over): For now non essential procedures are on hold. Eleven-year-old Jaroslav (ph) sutures should have been removed but the risk of infection is too high. His mother, Ludmilla (ph) tries to comfort him.

I will massage you and everything will be OK, she says. But no one knows how long this war will last. And these children cannot wait forever.


COOPER: It is just so heartbreaking to see this. Clarissa, do these families come from other parts of Ukraine to get to this hospital? Are they all from Kyiv?

WARD: No, they've come from all over the country Anderson, that man Valentin (ph) who we were talking to, he comes from the town of Berdyansk, which is down in the southeast near the city of Mariupol that is now under Russian control. His family is still there. You can imagine the anxiety and the fear. These families are separated from each other. That woman Sonia (ph) who I was talking to as well. Her family's in Kyiv, but they haven't seen each other in a week. Her eldest son who's just two years old is separated from her and they're living under the constant fear not just of the bombardment, but that their children cannot get the treatment that they so desperately need.


The only potential glimmer of hope here, Anderson, I would say is the fact that a Ukrainian and Russian delegation did meet today in this sort of second round of talks. And the one thing they appear to have possibly agreed on is the establishment of some kind of a humanitarian corridor to get kids like Milena (ph) and the others you saw on our report out to safety. But it is not going to be easy. And you can just imagine Anderson, horrifying to see sick children like this in any context, but under bombardment is just heartbreaking.

COOPER: My team and I went today in Lviv to a specialized Children's Hospital, mainly for cancer kids with cancer. And they have actually never received more than 100 children from Kyiv and elsewhere who were receiving treatment before the war for cancer in hospitals in Kyiv, and Kharkiv and Odessa and have now been able to make it to Lviv. They got here not though by ambulance. These are kids with very serious cancer, brain tumors, stomach cancers. They had to get on buses, on trains, just like everybody else fighting those crowds to get a place standing up often for hours on the trains as they got here. They're in a hospital here in Lviv, will have that report in our next hour as well, what we saw there.

Clarissa, I appreciate the reporting. Thank you so much for that.

More now on the humanitarian crisis as CNN's Sara Sidner also mentioned earlier, according to the UN more than 1 million people, Ukrainians, workers who had been here for people -- from other countries have now fled Ukraine. They are now refugees, others are staying. The Russian attacks have sparked the need for more aid certainly with food, supplies, medicine becoming scarce in a lot of places across the country.

Our next guest is the US Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power, she went to the Polish border where many Ukrainians wait hours to cross to safety. Take a look.


SAMANTHA POWER, ADMINISTRATOR, USAID: I'm here at the crossing point where Ukrainians are entering Poland, there's a food station where people are getting their first hot meal some cases in four days, their mothers all around with their children, some cases with three children, infants or toddlers. And the Poles have brought food stocks, teddy bears blankets for people to pick up as they begin what might be new lives here in Poland.


COOPER: And Samantha Power joins us now. She's also the former U.S. ambassador to the UN and former National Security Council advisor.

You've seen a lot of refugee situations all over the world. You've been doing this for -- this kind of work and have this kind of interest for a long time. I'm wondering how this compares to other places you've been, what stands out to you about the situation right now around on the humanitarian basis.

POWER: Well like you Anderson, yes, I've seen a lot of refugee crises and a lot of humanitarian crises. I've never seen refugees move this quickly to have more than a million people cross an international border in a seven-day period is quite exceptional and to know that so many are behind them wanting to follow. I've also never seen in welcoming refugees on the other side as the Poles, the Slovaks, the Romanians, the Hungarians, the Moldovans have done, I've never seen that kind of welcome that universal welcome, where citizens and governments alike are just opening up their doors in their hearts.

But I've also never seen the concentration of women and children, it's, as you know, just overwhelmingly women and children. And so while there's relief to cross the border and to get a hot meal, there's just the searing knowledge that your husband, your son, your father has been left behind.

COOPER: This is obviously there's the potential for a very long conflict here. It could go in a lot of different directions. But I mean, this is not something that's going to end, you know, next week. What are the needs right now long term? What are the needs going to be in terms of helping people here?

POWER: Well, to separate out the sort of two places of need, I mean, first, when that more than a million refugees cross, they need to be welcomed by the frontline states. And that is happening. And that's 2% of the Ukrainian population again, fleeing in a single week. Europeans did something again, unprecedented today, which they announced that everybody fleeing could have temporary asylum in Europe. That means work permits, food, schooling for kids. I mean, that's an incredibly important step to have taken and it's going to make the transition for those families a little bit easier, but what is -- what we're all desperately focused on now is the situation in the other theater which is Ukraine itself and specifically the very large part of Ukraine that is coming under unprovoked horrific Russian attack of the kind that you've been depicting here over the last bit.


And there, we have food trucks that are now moving in, the World Food Program, other NGOs, and civil protection, donations from European countries from the United States and elsewhere. They're all there. And what we're trying to do is facilitate handoffs so that they can be brought into those areas that are the most vulnerable. And that's where you saw the tentative announcement tonight about potentially some agreement on tactical humanitarian pauses. I don't have details on that at the moment. But that is an absolute imperative that we get food and medicines in, and that any civilian that wants to evacuate these besiege communities can leave, can actually cross frontlines without being fearful of getting shot or shelled.

And right now, that hasn't been the case. And that's why you're seeing a growing number of civilian casualties.

COOPER: Yes, and I mean, Russia doesn't have a great track record on honoring, you know, civilian corridors in war -- in war torn areas that they are operating in.

POWER: You can say that again, and the attacks that they're undertaking against residential buildings, potentially, we've seen the reports about the nuclear power plant. I mean, this, none of this bodes well. At the same time, you know, there are things that Russia wants, they would like international organizations to get access to their prisoners of war, they would look perhaps, like their dead soldiers to be repatriated.

So there's, you know, a little bit of an interest there. And remember, Putin is still pretending, lying, and claiming that this is a special military operation. And indeed, you hear Russian rhetoric about how all the humanitarian corridors should actually just bring civilians to Russia, where Russia can welcome them and treat them properly.

So, in Syria, you know, Anderson, where you've reported, I mean, there, there were possibilities of getting humanitarian pauses or getting select access, with the Russians with the Syrian government when they were carpet bombing Aleppo. So it can happen even in the worst circumstances. But what will make it happen is pressure from those countries that still have connections with Putin, pushing him. Those countries that the very few countries that didn't vote with the overwhelming majority of humanity at the UN yesterday, those countries should go to Putin and say, look, we're not loving abstaining on a vote condemning this because we're kind of hating this. Could you kindly grant humanitarian access? Could you kindly let food and medicine? And then of course, the pressure that we're imposing on the accountability side, is a companion to that.

But we need the Chinese of the world and those countries that are very uncomfortable right now, to press for humanitarian access to support the Ukrainian people.

COOPER: Yes. Samantha Power, I really appreciate your -- you're joining us tonight. Thank you.

POWER: Thanks for being there. Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. It's my honor.

Tonight's breaking news, the fire reported at a nuclear plant in Ukraine amid reports of shelling in the area, our correspondents from talk to experts around the world. Standing by as we watch these images of that fire. We'll be right back.